Malnutrition, an Overview
Malnutrition doesn’t only mean being undernourished or underweight. The prefix mal originated from the Latin word, which means “bad,” and many of our common words somewhat express this meaning. Examples include malfunction, maladjusted, and malformed.
That’s why, when we discuss malnutrition, we need to remember that it points out bad nutrition; the term doesn’t automatically indicate undernourishment.
But, what does bad nutrition entail?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are three general types of malnutrition, namely:
- Micronutrient deficiencies and excess
- Overweight, obesity, and other diet-related non-communicable diseases
Simply put, malnutrition refers to imbalances in the energy and nutrients that our bodies need and the energy and nutrients we actually receive.
Types of Malnutrition in Children
What are the types, causes, and symptoms of malnutrition in children?
Undernutrition happens when a child has deficiencies in their overall caloric consumption. Similarly, kids who have protein deficiencies are also known to experience undernutrition.
Deficiencies in overall caloric and protein intake usually happen when the child has no access to food, probably due to financial constraints. Likewise, it can also occur when they have severe health conditions that affect nutrient absorption or lead to profound appetite loss.
Please note that generally, children are vulnerable to undernutrition because they are growing faster; hence, they need a lot of calories.
Types of Undernutrition
We can further divide undernutrition into:
Marasmus results from severe deficiency of both calories and protein. It commonly happens in kids and produces symptoms like weight loss, dehydration, as well as fat and muscle loss. For babies, the best way to prevent marasmus is for the mother to breastfeed.